The Financial Times says that the first big public test of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency might have been expected to come over his reform measures, the French economy, Europe or his relationship with Donald Trump.
Instead, 14 months after his election victory, it has emerged from an unexpected direction: one of his bodyguards, Alexandre Benalla, was caught on camera beating two leftwing protesters during a May Day rally while wearing police garb without authorisation.
The Elysée Palace may dismiss “l’affaire Benalla” as media hype, but the episode is shaping the way the French view their 40-year-old head of state and is likely to affect his prospects of pushing through his programme to shake up the way the country runs.
As is so often the case, it was not the event itself that caused the crisis but the way the administration reacted. It was slow to sanction Mr Benalla, the president’s most trusted security man, after the story first broke.